Change we cannot believe in

17 March 2009 at 07:14 | 848 views

By Abdul Sulaiman Marray-Conteh, Leeds, UK.

“CHANGE” is what President Koroma and the APC promised the people of Sierra Leone in 2007. After almost 18 months of frustrating expectations and the continuous deterioration of the political, social and economic situation of the country, it is absolutely clear that “CHANGE” has come but not a change we can believe in. Sierra Leone’s prospect for expansive economic growth under the SLPP has taken a sharp turn for the worse under the APC.

The actions of violence and intimidation by any one or any political party have no place in our democracy. A lot of people paid the ultimate price (Death) for all Sierra Leoneans to live in a democratic country, where everyone would have the freedom of choice, speech, association, etc. What I want to point out is the chaos over the weekend at Wallace-Johnson Street. If one can look back over the past year it has always been the very same APC that has been on an intimidation parade, intimidating the SLPP members all over Sierra Leone. It is hard to imagine that any form of violence would be encouraged in the country when the violence during the rebel war continues to haunt Sierra Leoneans, inflicting a heavy toll on the psychological, social, political and economic lives of victims.

The current change in the country is based on policies of tribalism, corruption and violence. The ongoing violence and lawlessness in the country is a clear evidence of the government’s agenda for change. It is nothing but another “Nightmare in Paradise”. How can there be public confidence when the leadership is not based on fundamental truths and principles. The brutal suppression and political persecution of the opposition impede our ability to build a stable democracy. It is also a shame that the Sierra Leone Police that was recently praised in a report by the United Nations Integrated Peace building Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) for high level professionalism during the 2007 elections is becoming nothing other than the militant wing of the APC.

It is sad that in this day and age we still have politically-induced violence, particularly in Sierra Leone. What happened to freedom of association? I am extremely disappointed; I thought Sierra Leoneans have learnt from the past. I thought that people had a right to belong to any political organization of their choice. What happened to free campaigning? Why should people be constantly suppressed if they express a different view or feeling?

What happened last weekend is a shame to democracy; it’s a shame to the APC as it demonstrates that they do not have the capacity to handle politics in a mature and sophisticated manner prevalent in many developed countries. I sincerely hope that those who are responsible will be brought to book. Sierra Leone is a free country for all Sierra Leoneans despite their differences. We should be celebrating our differences not fighting over them. This may sound idealistic, but most democracies were born out of idealism. Violence is unacceptable. Violence must be stopped and discouraged at all times.

What we need are leaders who respect the foundations of human dignity, equality, freedom of speech and association. As long as public officials themselves are advocating violence in their not well-thought speeches, this violence will never end. Politicians must make an effort to encourage and educate people to differ without getting physical or vengeful. I hope reason will prevail in the end. God bless our beloved Sierra Leone.